Everything You Need To Know About The Mueller Report (HBO)

President Trump proclaimed victory even before Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report was released Thursday, tweeting a photoshopped image of his silhouette beside Game of Thrones style text that menacingly read: “No Collusion. No Obstruction. For the haters and the radical left democrats — ‘Game Over.’”

But Mueller’s report doesn’t clear the president, by any stretch. While it wipes away any criminal entanglements over collusion with Russia, it rolls out page after page of damning episodes in which Trump appeared to obstruct justice — or attempted to.

Mueller lists, at great length, Trump’s efforts to derail the investigation. At one point, he writes that Trump’s attempts to influence the probe failed “largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his request.”

“In layperson’s terms, he tried to obstruct justice,” Mary McCord, the former high-ranking DOJ official who helped oversee the department’s investigation of foreign interference in the 2016 election before Mueller was appointed, told VICE News. “I don’t know how you could walk away from this thinking that this isn’t a person who tried to obstruct justice.”

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How Maduro Has Clung Onto Power In Venezuela (HBO)

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has had a tumultuous 2019.

He’s been locked in a power struggle with 35-year-old Juan Guaidó since January, when the young opposition leader declared himself Venezuela’s rightful interim president with the backing of 50 countries, including the U.S. He’s faced several rounds of sanctions that have crippled the country’s oil sector and sharply exacerbated an already disastrous crisis, making an economic recovery all but impossible any time soon. He’s overseen one massive power outage after another, leaving entire neighborhoods without running water for days or even weeks at a time.

In spite of all this, Maduro has managed to hang on to power. He’s done so in part by maintaining control of key political institutions, especially the military, through a combination of patronage and intimidation. But he also counts on a hard core of support among the population, which has less to do with Maduro himself than with the legacy of the man who was president before him: Hugo Chávez.

Over his 15 years in power, Chávez became a national hero of near-mythic proportions by lifting millions out of poverty: He reduced hunger and extreme poverty by half, nearly wiped out illiteracy, and transformed Venezuela’s barrios by supplying them with proper housing and basic goods and services, organizing them politically in the process. And while the catastrophic economic breakdown Venezuela is currently suffering has badly weathered support for Maduro among the poor, many still have faith in the larger chavista project, and don’t see the U.S.-led opposition as a viable alternative.

“Yes, people are disappointed, but even though they’re disappointed, they’re not with the opposition — they’re passive,” said Olga Andrade, a resident of a Caracas barrio. “Because what exactly does the opposition have to offer? How long have they been fighting for this or that, and what have they accomplished? They haven’t done anything.”

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William Barr’s Been Accused Of Presidential Cover-Up Before (HBO)

Weeks before former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger’s criminal trial over his role in the 1980’s Iran-Contra scandal, then-Attorney General William Barr dropped a bomb on the prosecution.

“People in the Iran-Contra affair have been treated very unfairly,” Barr told USA Today in December 1992, blasting the charges as illegitimate. “People in this Iran-Contra matter have been prosecuted for the kind of conduct that would not have been considered criminal or prosecutable by the Justice Department.”

Weinberger faced charges of lying to Congress, brought by a special prosecutor, then known as an “independent counsel,” who accused him of withholding 1,700 pages of notes about high-level meetings that allegedly held “evidence of a conspiracy.”

Barr’s broadside alarmed the lead prosecutor handling the case against Weinberger, James J. Brosnahan, who warned the judge that Barr may have just unduly biased his jury pool. Later that month, when the White House pardoned six top Iran-Contra defendants on Christmas Eve 1992 at Barr’s urging, Brosnahan believed he’d just witnessed the completion of a successful cover-up.

Three decades on, Brosnahan fears Barr has returned to his old job to run the same scheme again.

“If you want a presidential cover-up, Barr is your guy,” Brosnahan, now 85, told VICE News. “And I think we’ve already seen that.”

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The Teens Running Former Sen. Mike Gravel’s Presidential Campaign (HBO)

What happens when you mix the online snark and progressive idealism of the podcast-listening teen and the dgaf attitude of a 88 year-old lefty?

You get the Mike Gravel For President campaign.

A group of massively online college and high school students heard about Gravel a little while ago on Chapo Trap House, the podcast of record for the Bernie set. Gravel got famous in 1971 when, as senator from Alaska, he read the Pentagon Papers into the Senate record, effectively declassifying them. Then he dropped off the radar for a long while until 2008, when he ran a quixotic bid for president. He didn’t get very far, but he got far enough to create a few viral moments on the debate stage. Gravel was the anti-war conscience in the primary.

That’s the role the college and high school students want Gravel to play in the 2020 Democratic primary too. Most of them are supporters of Bernie Sanders, but they think getting Gravel on the debate stage again could help Sanders by giving him an ally and help push the entire party to the left.

So the teens talked Gravel into running again. But this time, Gravel doesn’t really want to leave his California home. He’s given the kids control of his online identity, and they’ve used it to raise thousands of dollars — and attack just about every other Democratic candidate.

VICE News met up with Gravel as he hosted the teens in real life for the first time.

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Black Game of Thrones Fans Have Built Their Own Universe Around Westeros (HBO)

On Sunday night a record 17 million people tuned in for the premiere of Game of Thrones’s eighth and final season, making it one of the last examples of a collective viewing experience in American culture. And while we all enjoy the same show about feuding kingdoms and flying dragons, black fans have built their own universe out of Westeros.

They’ve taken a show with more magical creatures than recurring characters of color, and have somehow turned it into something unapologetically black.

Rod Morrow and his wife, Karen, are the hosts of the podcast called “The Black Guy Who Tips,” and they’ve popularized the hashtag #DemThrones, where black viewers put their own lens on the shows dramatic twists and turns.

“Moments that resonate with black people I think are a little bit different than just the major moments of the series,” Morrow said. The hashtag has everything from explicit, black humor to deep analyses of elements of race, class, and enslavement in the show.

VICE News went to Charlotte, North Carolina to watch “The Black Guy Who Tips” in action and then attended a premiere night cookout in Brooklyn.

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On This Day: 17 April 2011

The first episode of hit fantasy show “Game of Thrones” premieres on HBO. (April 17)

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ShowBiz Minute: Notre Dame, ‘GoT,’ Franklin

Celebrities react to Notre Dame fire; “Game of Thrones” season debut breaks HBO rating records in U.S.; Aretha Franklin makes history with posthumous Pulitzer win. (April 16)

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How To Ban A Gun In 28 Days (HBO)

On the afternoon of March 15, as Muslims gathered for Friday prayers, a gunman entered into the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, and shot at anyone in his path before driving to another mosque and doing the same.

The shooting spree proved to be the deadliest in the country’s history, leaving 50 people dead, dozens more injured, and propelling the island country into a moment of national soul-searching.

Less than a month later, the type of weapons used by the gunman are now banned under dramatic new legislation that has effectively rebuilt New Zealand’s gun laws overnight.

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What Happens Next For Julian Assange (HBO)

Julian Assange’s lawyers are digging in for a furious, last-ditch effort to block his extradition to the U.S., following his dramatic arrest Thursday morning. The WikiLeaks founder was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy, where he had been living since 2012.

Assange is now facing up to five years in American prison for allegedly conspiring to hack into a classified Pentagon computer system in 2010. A 2018 indictment, unsealed by the Department of Justice on Thursday, charges him with a single count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and alleges that he tried to help former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning gain access to the government computer system in March 2010.

Given Assange’s contentious history with Washington, the initial indictment may be an attempt to bring Assange to the U.S. before targeting him with additional charges, former federal prosecutors told VICE News. His longstanding confrontation with the U.S. government now appears destined to play out in courtrooms in London and Alexandria, Virginia.

“Once the Justice Department gets him over here, they have a lot more leverage over Mr. Assange — and the tables are turned,” said Renato Mariotti, a former U.S. prosecutor based in Chicago. “You don’t need to be a legal analyst to see why the Justice Department would probably like to charge him with all sorts of things.”

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How Brits Are Preparing For A Post-Brexit Apocalypse (HBO)

EU Heads of State and/or Government convene for a special summit called after the UK parliament voted on March 29 to reject the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between the UK and EU. The looming possibility of Brexit has turned many Brits into preppers ––anxiously waiting to lose access to their favorite products, food, and even medicine. VICE News follows two people prepping in the case of this national emergency.

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